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Men's Hoops to Host Thanksgiving Classic

November 28, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Kyle Ohman and company will play host to Coker, South Carolina State and William & Mary in the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic.

Kyle Ohman and company will play host to Coker, South Carolina State and William & Mary in the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic.

Full Tournament Notes (PDF)
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Live Video - Big South EDGE
Game Day Central

Game Preview
The Liberty Flames return home for a four-game homestand, beginning with the 2008 Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. The Flames will host the Coker Cobras on Friday, inside the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. William & Mary and South Carolina State will follow, squaring off at 8:15 p.m. The losers of each Friday contest will play at 6 p.m. on Saturday, while the winners will do the same at 8:15 p.m.

Both of the Flames' contests in the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic will be televised on the Flames Sports Network, with Ray Jones providing the play-by-play, Tim Scarborough adding the color analysis and Samantha Steele roaming the sidelines. There will be a radio broadcast, which will air on the Flames Sports Network (flagship WRVL 88.3 FM), with Jerry Edwards providing the play-by-play for his 28th season. Additionally, an Internet audio broadcast on LibertyFlames.com will be available. There will also be a live video stream of the broadcast via the Big South EDGE, available on BigSouthSports.com.

Recent Results
The Liberty Flames secured its second-ever victory over an ACC opponent when they topped the Virginia Cavaliers, 86-82, on Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena. Liberty's other victory over an ACC opponent was also against Virginia, 69-64, on Jan. 7, 1998, at the old University Hall.

Liberty's win over Virginia snapped the Cavaliers 36-game November home winning streak, which dated back to 1994. The win also snapped Virginia's 16-game winning streak against Big South opponents, which dates back to Liberty's last win over the Cavaliers in 1998. The win also snapped Virginia's 15-game winning streak against non-conference in-state opponents, which dated back to 2002.

Seth Curry and Kyle Ohman led Liberty with 26 points, while Anthony Smith chipped in 21 markers. The performance by the trio marked the first time three players have scored 20 against Virginia in the same game since Juan Dixon (23), Chris Wilcox (21) and Lonny Baxter (20) did so for Maryland on March 3, 2002.

Ohman Ties a John Paul Jones Arena Record
Kyle Ohman scored 17-first half points, tying a John Paul Jones Arena record for first half points. Ohman shares the record with North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Hampton's Vincent Simpson.
Liberty versus Tournament Participants
Liberty has a 2-1 all-time record against the participants in the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. The Flames are 1-1 against William & Mary and 1-0 against Coker. The Flames have never previous faced South Carolina State.

All-Time Series Results – William & Mary
Nov. 23, 2003 L (64-91) Williamsburg, Va.
Nov. 26, 2002 W (62-61) Lynchburg
All-Time Series Results – Coker
Nov. 13, 2007 W (64-49) Lynchburg

Last Time Out Against Coker
Head coach Ritchie McKay secured his first victory as the skipper of the Flames against the Coker Cobras on Nov. 13, 2007. Anthony Smith led all scorers with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while setting a career high with 11 rebounds. Smith later tied his career high with 11 boards against VMI on Feb. 26, 2008.

Last Time Out Against William & Mary
The Flames suffered a 91-64 setback at William & Mary in both team's last meeting on Nov. 23, 2003. Ryan Mantlo paced the Flames with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the losing cause, while Gabe Martin chipped in 15 markers.

McKay versus South Carolina State and the MEAC
Head coach Ritchie McKay is 2-0 lifetime against South Carolina State, winning one game while the head coach at New Mexico and one as the skipper at Oregon State. McKay is 6-0 lifetime against members of the MEAC.

Curry Top Scoring Freshman in the Nation
Seth Curry's 26-point performance at Virginia on Tuesday pushed his points per game average to 22.3, bypassing the Cavaliers' Sylven Landesberg (22.0) as the nation's top scoring true freshman. Curry and Landesberg are the only two true freshmen in the top 50 in national scoring. Curry is tied for 23rd nationally at 22.3 ppg.

McKay Wins First Game over an ACC Team
Head Coach Ritchie McKay earned his first victory over an ACC team when the Flames topped Virginia, 86-82, on Tuesday. McKay entered the contest 0-4 against the ACC. McKay previously dropped a game against Virginia Tech last season while at Liberty. As the head coach at New Mexico, McKay went 0-2 against Wake Forest and he dropped a game against Duke during his reign at Portland State.

Curry Joins Elite Liberty Circle
Freshman Seth Curry became the fourth Liberty freshman, and the third since the Flames moved to Division I, to reach the 20-point plateau in their collegiate debut when he tallied 23 markers against Montreat on Nov. 14.

The first Liberty freshman to accomplish the feat was Willard De- Shazor, who poured in 29 points against Tennessee Temple on Nov. 28, 1973. Chris Toomer scored 21 points against Maine on Nov. 23, 1990 in his first collegiate game. Jay Boykin was the last Liberty freshman, until Curry, to reach 20 points in his collegiate debut. He scored 20 points against Drake on Nov. 24, 1995, when Curry was five years old.

The previous three members of this exclusive Liberty club played all four years at Liberty, but Deshazor was the only player to reach the 1,000-point club (1,569). Toomer is next with 583 career points.

Overtime Drought
Liberty has played 74 overtime-free games since the Flames last ended regulation of a contest tied. The last time Liberty played in an overtime game was on Feb. 6, 2006, against UNC Asheville inside the Vines Center. Liberty eventually dropped the game, 83-81.

The streak serves as the second-longest in program history and the longest during Liberty's Division I era. The longest Liberty streak without an overtime contest is 134 games from Dec. 8, 1972 until Dec. 9, 1977. Liberty is 18-29 all-time in overtime games.

Winning a Season Opener
With a 97-77 victory over Montreat on Nov. 14, the Flames secured their first win in a season opener since Nov. 17, 2000, when Liberty defeated Tusculum, 84-58, inside the Vines Center. Liberty is now 19-18 all-time in season openers.

Curry Ties Vines Center Record in Debut
Curry's seven steals against Montreat on Nov. 14 tied a Vines Center record that was originally set by Delawn Grandison on Jan. 7, 1999 against Tusculum and was last achieved by Maurice Watkins on Jan. 15, 2001 against Charleston Southern. Curry became one of seven players to record seven steals inside Liberty's home.

McKay Starts Strong
Ritchie McKay is now 10-3 as a head coach in season openers. He started a new winning streak after his previous streak of four-straight triumphs was snapped last year by San Diego State. Liberty fell to San Diego State, 62-50, at Fresno State's World Vision Classic on Nov. 9, 2007. McKay previous loss in a season opener came in his inaugural game as the head coach at New Mexico, falling 76-68, at the hands of the Cal Golden Bears on Nov. 23, 2002. McKay also dropped his very first game as a collegiate head coach at Portland State, falling at Mississippi, 56-54, in 1996.

Flames Facing New Foes This Year
Liberty has the potential to face eight opponents the Flames have never previously met. Liberty's non-conference schedule pits the Flames against Anderson, DePaul, Northern Colorado and Saint Louis. Due to Liberty's Thanksgiving Classic, the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic and the ESPNU BracketBuster, an additional three opponents could join the list. Those possible opponents are South Carolina State, Southern, USC Upstate and whoever the Flames draw in the ESPNU BracketBuster (opponent will be announced in February).

The Curry/Lynchburg Connection
Freshman Seth Curry isn't the only member of his family to appear in a college game on the Liberty campus. Seth's father, Dell Curry, as a freshman, poured in a game-high 19 points, on 7-of-13 shooting, for Virginia Tech on Dec. 7, 1982, in the Hokies' 71-53 triumph over the Flames.

The game featured two fathers of 2008 All-Americans. Dell's older son Stephen is an All-American performer at Davidson, while the Flames' Eric Gordon saw his son, Eric Gordon, Jr. picked in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers after an All-American season at Indiana. Liberty's Gordon, scored six points and dished out two assists against Curry's Virginia Tech squad that cold December night in 1982.

Smith is a Preseason Mid-Major All-American
Senior Anthony Smith was named by CollegeInsider.com to its Preseason Mid-Major All-American list. Smith was the only player from the Big South Conference on the list and became only the second Liberty Flame to garner such preseason accolades from the prestigious website. Former Liberty standout Larry Blair made the list prior to the 2006-07 campaign.

My Brother is an All-American
Freshmen Seth Curry and Jesse Sanders each are younger siblings of All-Americans from last season. Curry's older brother Stephen is currently an All-American performer at Davidson, nearly lifting the Wildcats to the 2008 Final Four. Sanders' older brother Thomas earned All-American honors at Gardner-Webb after being named 2008 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year. The elder Sanders poured in 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs' 84-68 upset win at No. 20 Kentucky on Nov. 8, 2007.

Next on the Scoring List for Anthony Smith
With 1,198 career points, Anthony Smith sits in 15th place all-time in the Liberty annals for scoring. On Nov. 14, Smith passed Eric Gordon (1,154), on Liberty's career scoring list.

Gordon was a three-year letterwinner from 1982-84 and is the father of former Indiana All-American and the Los Angeles Clippers' 2008 first-round draft pick, Eric Gordon.

Next up is Greg McCauley (1,228), a four-year letterwinner from 1981-85. Smith needs 31 points to pass McCauley for 14th place.

Smith Starts Slow From Beyond the Arc
Anthony Smith is currently shooting 27.8 percent (5-of-18) from beyond the arc through the season's first three games. This is nothing new for Smith, as the Plano, Texas native shot 27.3 percent (9-of-33) from three-point range through the first six games of last season. Smith heated up in game seven against Longwood on Nov. 27, 2007, connecting on 7-of-8 from three-point land, jumpstarting him to finish the final 26 games connecting on 43.6 percent (75-of-172) of his shots. Smith finished the year connecting on 41.0 percent (84-of-205) of his attempts, giving him the fifth-best success rate for a season in program history. The 84 three-point field goals and 205 three-point attempts were program bests.

Smith is Preseason Big South Preseason Player of the Year
Senior Anthony Smith was tabbed by the coaches and media as the Big South Preseason Player of the Year. It marks the first time the Liberty men's program has been recognized with the honor.

November Record
Overall, Liberty has posted a 71-69 record in November, including a 48-15 ledger at home, 11-39 record on the road and a 12-15 mark at a neutral location. Since the 2000-01 season, Ritchie McKay has a 25-12 record in the 11th month of the year.

Smith Can Shoot
Senior Anthony Smith was the only player in the nation in 2008 to attempt at least 200 three-point field goals and succeed on at least 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (41.0), while also connecting on 50 percent of his field goal attempts (51.5).

He was one of five players in the nation to accomplish the same feat, while attempting at least 100 three-point field goals. The other players were Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Lee Cummard (BYU), Malik Hairston (Oregon) and James Harden (Arizona State).

Road Woes
The Flames have lost 37 of their last 44 road games, dating back to the start of the 2005-06 season. Three of the wins during the span came during the 2006-07 season. A 66-63 victory at Charleston Southern on Jan. 22, 2007, a 118-108 victory at VMI on Feb. 21, 2007 and a 64-48 win at Radford on Feb. 24, 2007. The victory in Lexington was the Flames first since Dec. 7, 1991, and the win at Radford was Liberty's first since Feb. 22, 1997. The fourth road win was a 55-53 triumph at East Carolina on Nov. 17, 2007, the fifth road win was on Jan. 28, 2008 at VMI, 87-81 and the sixth was a 65-51 triumph at Coastal Carolina on Feb. 16, 2008. Liberty secured its seventh road victory during that span on Tuesday at Virginia, 86-82.

New Faces
Liberty returns 33.5 points of its 69.4 points per game from last season, and 56 percent of those points came from Liberty's lone returning starter, Anthony Smith (16.0 ppg). Included in the returning points per game number is three total points from Tyler Baker, who appeared in one game, before giving way to injury and James Spencer, a walk-on who tallied two total points. The final returnees, Kyle Ohman and Jeremy Anderson chipped in 7.7 ppg and 6.8 ppg, respectively.

Season Openers - Home
Nov. 14's season opener marked the first time Liberty has opened a season at home since Nov. 19, 2004, when the Flames hosted New Hampshire. Liberty dropped the 2004 contest in a heartbreaker, 59-58.

Liberty In Big South Openers
Nov. 18th at UNC Asheville marked the 18th Big South opener for the Flames. Liberty has a 4-14 all-time record in Big South openers into the contest. The Flames have opened a conference season against UNC Asheville now seven occasions, all resulting in Bulldog wins. UNCA is 3-0 inside the Vines Center and 4-0 inside the Justice Center against Liberty when opening Big South play. The Nov. 18th contest marked the third straight year the Flames have opened up conference play inside the Justice Center.